A Letter to Fellow Struggling Students

Hi.

I’m a 4th year student, and sometimes I almost can’t believe it. For those like me who have also struggled in their studies here at Tech, I’m sure you might be able to understand where I’m coming from. Tech is tough, and for us with mental health issues or any sort of disability, it sometimes feels like it will never end. That’s not to say that there haven’t been many enjoyable and unforgettable moments, since I’ve certainly experienced quite a few of those, but the constant lingering stress of keeping up with classes has never left my side. For me in these last couple semester’s, there’s the added weight of feeling so close to being finished with my degree while also fearing that I’ll fail a class and prolong my time here. It’s quite scary to think about simply because it’s scary to feel uncertain about when I will finally get to graduate. In the time I’ve had to think about this, I’ve formulated some tips and personal realizations for things that have been helpful to me. So to all the students who have also been struggling, and especially for those still early in their time here at Tech, I hope I can provide some help and comfort as an unknown elder.

1. Please read your emails, especially the ones from your advisor.

This one sticks out as pretty big to me, since I recently had a registration scare that felt more intense than the ones we all often experience during the dreaded process of registration. If you’re trying to graduate, make sure you look out for emails from your advisor if they’re so kind as to send out information for classes, when to apply to graduate, or even what permits you’d need for specific classes. While I was lucky enough to have realized I missed many of the suggested guidelines for when to apply for these things, going back through the emails I neglected to read was a lifesaver that made the process of making sure I got done what I needed to so much easier.

2. Go to therapy, or at least try to meet with a psychiatrist if you suspect something

As someone who grew up with parents who didn’t believe in the importance of mental health, I didn’t get myself the help that I needed until I was deep into depression early in my sophomore year. I struggled my freshman year, but had attributed it to the increased rigor of classes compared to high school and lack of the highly structured environment of my school and home during that time. With depression weighing me down, the other issues that I had once been able to live with started to creep in more and more and was affecting my academics as well. I consider myself lucky to have had friends who were so mental health positive and encouraged me to make an appointment with a psychiatrist and therapist. Although therapy has been something of an on/off situation, I’m glad to know that I can turn back to it if I need.

3. In a similar vein – go get yourself ODS accommodations if you can!

Trust me, this has been an extreme help to me. Once I was finally diagnosed with ADHD, I set up a meeting with ODS as soon as I could. And if you’re wondering at all, the process was super easy, and I had accommodations within a few weeks time. Though I’ve been lucky enough to have professors before these accommodations that I already talked to about my mental health and were extremely accommodating in working with me and granting extensions, it is really scary to wonder each time before I first reach out to a professor how they would respond to me. With my accommodations for extra testing time and a suggestion to grant me extra time on assignments, it’s become so much easier to reach out since I knew I wouldn’t ever have to risk coming across to my professors as just a student who was making things up.

4. Even if it’s not academic, join a club that calls to you

If you told me before I came to Tech that I’d now be the host of a Folk show (Mountain Breeze, Mondays 5-6PM on 91.1FM!!!), I would have been very surprised. But here I am, having joined college radio my first semester at Tech and still very much loving the time I commit to it. Of course I’m biased and would encourage everyone who loves music to join WREK radio, but the core of what I’m trying to convey is that it’s simply really nice to find a niche to commit to during college. When academics get’s too stressful, I know that there’s another community on campus that I don’t have to worry about my performance in, and that thought can be very comforting.

5. Reach out to your friends. They love you, and they want to help if you’d let them.

This is a given, I hope. It’s hard to see the network of people who love and support us during times we feel like we are stuck so deeply in our own problems and minds, but it’s important to remind yourself that there are others around you who are very willing to help and be there for you too. Some things are too big for us to handle on our own, and it’s okay to let people in who care about you.

College is a stressful time, especially when you’re at an institution as rigorous as Tech. But it’s possible, and you’ll get through it, one day at a time. You might even enjoy your time here, learn more about yourself and your dreams, find what makes you happen, and meet some wonderful wonderful people.

(Cover illustration by Reggie Slater)

I’m a queer non-binary artist (they/them pronouns please!) currently studying Computational Media at Georgia Tech as a 3rd-year student. With a concentration in People + Interaction Design, my personal style and approach through my art and designs are meant to evoke a viewer’s inner feelings of connection to the world around them.